It usually goes like this: “Dr. Jenn, Hi, my name is (insert any name you like) and I’m freaking out. The terror is awful. Shaking. Pain. Weak. Man, it wasn’t this bad THE FIRST TIME I GOT OFF!”

Dr. Ashton talks about kindling: when the brain has been subjected to benzos, off, or lowered dose, then back on. For reasons unknown, the brain reacts MORE after repeated introductions of the drug.

I’ve not read any research as to WHY this phenomenon exists, but I certainly hear about it over and over and over enough that I believe Ashton’s observations are spot on.

I danced with the kindling demon myself. My doctor told me I could rid myself of my benzo (after almost 18 years!) in a month by cutting out 1/4 every week. Idiot. He was uneducated. I cut 1/2 my dose in a month and NEVER RECOVERED from that initial shock. I tapered down to .3 mgs. Bedridden. Unable to sit on the toilet unaided some days. Intense suffering.  A new doctor told me to go back up in dose to stabilize. Gladly. But once up, I didn’t “get stable.” Back down again. The SECOND time around, I was as sick as I was at .3 mgs when I hit .6. I was definitely kindled. In fact, I was so sick the second time around, I threw in the towel, let a new doc pump me full of pheno, and jumped. At 33 months free, I’m still recovering from body symptoms.

Had I NOT gone back up, and stayed the course with a taper, would I be this bummed up this far out? No way to go back to find out. But I do wonder, sometimes.

If you are tapering, PLEASE take it slowly. Listen to your body. If you are off, and holding on by a thread, KEEP HOLDING if you can. Reinstating and tapering again may be harder, and you may be more ill, the second time around.

I am not attempting to practice medicine on this blog. I am trying to warn you of the very real danger of kindling. One of our benzo buddies got free then allowed her doctor to convince her to reinstate and taper more slowly. She’s now on FIVE times her original dose and sicker than ever. 

Please take good care of yourselves. Remember most doctors are not benzo-wise. We still need to educate the medical profession. I am hopeful we can get them to understand this syndrome in the near future.